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Persistent antisemitism hangs over EU

Antisemitic hate speech, harassment and fear of being recognised as Jewish; these are some of the realities of being Jewish in the EU today. It appears to be getting worse, finds a major repeat survey of Jews from the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, the largest ever of its kind worldwide.

“Decades after the Holocaust, shocking and mounting levels of antisemitism continue to plague the EU,” says FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty. “Member States must take note and step up their efforts to prevent and combat antisemitism. Jewish people have a right to live freely, without hate and without fear for their safety.”

FRA’s report ‘Experiences and perceptions of antisemitism – Second survey on discrimination and hate crime against Jews in the EU’ outlines the survey findings.

They point to rising levels of antisemitism. About 90% of respondents feel that antisemitism is growing in their country. Around 90% also feel it is particularly problematic online, while about 70% cite public spaces, the media and politics as common sources of antisemitism.

Almost 30% have been harassed, with those being visibly Jewish most affected.

Antisemitism appears to be so deep-rooted in society that regular harassment has become part of their normal everyday life. Almost 80% do not report serious incidents to the police or any other body. Often this is because they feel nothing will change.

Over a third avoid taking part in Jewish events or visiting Jewish sites because they fear for their safety and feel insecure. The same proportion have also even considered emigrating.

Such results underline the need for Member States to take urgent and immediate action. In doing so they need to work closely together with a broad range of stakeholders, particularly Jewish communities and civil society organisations, to roll out more effective measures to prevent and fight antisemitism.

This includes strengthening Holocaust education and awareness raising activities, keeping Jewish communities and sites safe, and regularly monitoring hate crime towards Jews. Regular victimisation surveys would help assess the effectiveness of laws and policies.

In addition, all Member States should fully and correctly transpose EU laws to protect victims and to counter racism into their national law. This would help ensure victims get the support they deserve and perpetrators are sentenced with effective, proportionate and dissuasive criminal penalties. This would, in turn, encourage victims and witnesses to speak out and report incidents. Equality bodies have been indicated as having an important role in this context.

[(FRA Opinion 4
The EU and its Member States should ensure that victims of antisemitic discrimination are encouraged and facilitated to report incidents to relevant authorities, equality bodies or third-party organisations. This could be achieved through the EU and its Member States funding dedicated awareness-raising and information campaigns. These campaigns could be organised by relevant ministries, in close cooperation with national equality bodies and Jewish community organisations, to ensure that their messages are better targeted. Such campaigns could highlight how antisemitic discrimination constitutes a serious violation of people’s fundamental and human rights and why it is worthwhile for them to seek redress. Any such campaign should also highlight that effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions are imposed on offenders.)]

The results cover 12 Member States where over 96% of the EU’s estimated Jewish population live. Over 16,000 Jews aged 16 or over took part in the online survey from May to June 2018. It builds on the first survey’s results and opinions published in 2013.

See Fundamental Rights Agency Press Release, available in a variety of languages.

Antisemitism in Belgium

During the hearings on anti-Semitism on Human Rights Day, Unia asked the Belgian Senate for the reinstatement of an observatory against anti-Semitism. Unia also called on Minister Kris Peeters, who is in charge of Equal Opportunities, to take the first step towards an inter-federal action plan to combat discrimination and racism. Antisemitism remains a persistent problem in Belgium and across Europe, as the FRA findings show.

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